NRL & NYC Previews - Rd 5, 2014

Dragons v Rabbitohs

Sydney Cricket Ground

Saturday 7.30pm

It’s fitting that rugby league’s two most successful Clubs come together in Men of League Heritage round this Saturday at none other than the Sydney Cricket Ground – the scene of so many of their triumphs.

With 20 Premierships to the Rabbitohs’ tally and 15 to St George (11 in a row plus one as St George Illawarra), the SCG will play host to one of the game’s greatest traditions.

To watch a video package from the SCG Press conference – including legends Ron Coote and Graeme Langlands – please click here.

To read our Member First Feature and video with Rabbitohs Legend Ron Coote, please click here.

Even more history is set to be made at the historic venue, with Rabbitohs Captain John Sutton set to break Bob McCarthy’s all-time appearance record of 211 matches on Saturday, while for the Dragons, winger Brett Morris will have the chance to surpass his father Steve’s Club record of 102 tries.

Saturday’s game also represents the beginning of a new era in the game, with a landmark agreement between the Rabbitohs and the Dragons that will see this match, both Clubs and their Members reap the benefits of a ‘50-50 match’ that will feature; shared gate-takings, as well as reciprocal rights for both sets of Members (Premium and Plus Rabbitohs Members).

To read more about the collaboration between the Rabbitohs and the Dragons, please click here.

But while the mood will be celebratory all round, on the pitch, the stakes are high. The Dragons come into round five leading the Premiership having won three of their first four, while the Rabbitohs have slumped to three consecutive losses after trouncing defending-Premiers the Roosters in round one.

The Dragons will be bolstered by the return of boom fullback Josh Dugan, while the Rabbitohs will be looking to put in a rejuvenated performance with their re-shuffled side.

To see this week’s edition of Maguire’s Line-Up, please click here.

John Sutton will this week return to his favoured position of five-eighth, pushing speedster Dylan Walker back into the centres  – a move that is sure to provide the Rabbitohs with extra strike power out wide.

“I’m pretty happy going back to the centres,” admitted Walker.

“I can probably utilise my speed and probably get more carries in the centre.”

Walker praised the Dragons for their start to the season, but the focus will be completely on the improvement of his own team going into the all-important match,

“They’ve had a good start to the year – full credit to them,” said Walker.

“But we’re just focussing on ourselves and trying to do our best to get a good win.”

To watch the full interview with Dylan Walker, please click here.

In the forwards, Dave Tyrrell will this week start the match in the front row with Apisai Koroisau and George Burgess, while Sam Burgess moves back to lock.

If the Rabbitohs want to turn the start of their season around, Saturday is a must-win, and with so much history and occasion surrounding the match with John Sutton’s milestone, there’s never been a better time to get it going.

Will you be there to support ‘Sutto' and witness history on Saturday? Tickets are available now!

Tickets

A $25 ticket for an adult and child will be on offer for this weekend’s Dragons v Rabbitohs 'Men of League Heritage Round'

Fans will be able to purchase the special “Generation Pack” ticket for the Sydney Cricket Ground match on Saturday.

The special offer is aimed at celebrating Heritage Round by encouraging parents and grandparents to take a child to the league and share in the game’s rich history.

Members passes for both the Dragon and the Rabbitohs (Premium and Plus) will also be accepted on the day thanks to reciprocal rights, with the same agreement in place for the round 12 clash at ANZ Stadium.

In another win for fans, 2500 tickets to sit in the new SCG Members (Noble) stand are also available.

For all game day information including how to purchase tickets, please click here.

 

Recent History

The South Sydney Rabbitohs faced the Dragons once in 2013, coming away with a rare loss to the Dragons. More recently though, the Rabbitohs retained the Charity Shield by accounting for the St George Illawarra Dragons by 38-20 during the pre-season.

In the first Charity Shield to ever be played outside of Sydney, the Rabitohs put in a polished performance to come away with the victory, despite missing regular halfback Adam Reynolds, while also not having the services of Greg Inglis for much of the game.

The game started poorly for the Rabbitohs when Dylan Walker sailed the kick-off over the dead-ball line on the full, giving the Dragons early possession. But despite four repeat sets on the Rabbitohs line, the men in red and green held strong to keep the Saints at bay.

The defence proved to be vital when Souths were able to score off their first real attacking opportunity of the match – Beau Champion finishing off a bizarre movement after a Sam Burgess kick. Bryson Goodwin added the extras from out wide to give the Rabbitohs an early 6-0 lead.

Saints’ promise in the early stages of the match began to seem a distant memory after former Rabbitoh Dylan Farrell’s kick-off also sailed over the dead-ball line, gifting Souths field position. Souths capitalised immediately through Goodwin who bagged a converted try off the back of some great lead-up work from Sutton and Dylan Walker.

The Dragons then bombed an opportunity when Gareth Widdop threw a bullet-like pass to an unmarked Brett Morris for a certain try, but the winger couldn’t hold onto the pill.

But the poor execution wasn’t confined to the Saints. Dylan Walker failing to find touch from a penalty again gifted the Dragons field position, but this time they made no mistake – Jason Nightingale finishing off a backline movement to score in the corner.

With just under 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Greg Inglis kicked into gear to link up with Lote Tuqiri, who raced 30 metres to score in the corner. Goodwin failed to convert the try leaving the score at 16-4.

Shortly after, John Sutton showed his halfback skills with a double-pump and a short ball to Joe Picker at close range for the former Raider to race in under the posts. Goodwin added the extras to make it 22-4 going into half-time.

After the break, Rabbitohs fans held their breath as Greg Inglis stayed down after a head-clash with Dragons playe Dan Hunt. Inglis left the field, but from the very next play, John Sutton put in a cross-field kick for Chris McQueen to touch down in the in-goal to make it 26-4.

Souths went on with the job when Issac Luke scored a sneaky try from dummy-half under the sticks. Goodwin converted to make it 32-4 in the red and green’s favour.

With just over 22 minutes in the match remaining, George Burgess added his name to the score-card in typical fashion under the sticks, taking Josh Dugan out of the match in the process with a knee injury when the larger George hit his head against Dugan's knee. Goodwin converted to make the score 38-4.

The Dragons weren’t dead yet though, with a sharp backline movement splitting the Rabbitohs’ defence to allow Peter Mata’utia to score virtually untouched. They backed it up with another try to Adam Quinlan, who took a beautiful pass from Jack de Belin to score. Gareth Widdop converted to make it 38-14.

Mata’utia bagged his second of the match with just two minutes remaining for the Dragons with Gareth Widdop converting to bring the final score to 38-20.

 

Key Matchups

John Sutton v Gareth Widdop

Expect John Sutton to put his best foot forward in this match. After spending the opening month of the season in the number 13 jumper, Sutton returns to the more familiar number six – a shift that could produce a number of things, namely a revitalisation of the Rabbitohs’ backline. Sutton knows this team well, and with him at five-eighth directing play, coupled with his forward-like strength, Sutton could provide much for the red and greens. Gareth Widdop is in good form though and will be out to spoil the party for Sutton in his milestone match. Widdop directs the Dragons’ play with fluidity and has developed good combinations with his outside backs across the last few weeks. Sutton will have to re-find these combinations with his teammates, and quickly.

 

Sam Burgess v Trent Merrin

Both are representative quality players, and both with be looking to lead from the front this week. Burgess has statistically been among the Rabbitohs’ more consistent and busier players during the opening rounds of the Premiership, but that has largely been while playing in the front row. With Sutton shifting back to five-eighth, the massive but agile Burgess moves to lock where he will no doubt be commissioned to play a roaming role. This could see the Englishman popping up on the fringes at will. If that happens, expect Burgess to grab a four-pointer at some stage.

Keys to Victory

Focus is the key for the Rabbitohs – focus on doing the little things right. By the players’ own admission, that hasn’t quite happened in the last few weeks, with drop-balls and incomplete sets marring the teams’ performance. Consistently completing sets and getting a good kick away at the end will go a long way to grabbing a red and green victory.

The kicking game of Sutton and Reynolds will need to be on song, particularly with Josh Dugan returning to the field. The former NSW fullback is as dangerous as his on-field reputation suggests. Kick down his throat, and he’ll be making easy metres that other players simply can’t with his kick-return. His combination with Gareth Widdop and Brett Morris could prove costly for the Rabbitohs if their defence isn’t on song.

 

NYC

Dragons v Rabbitohs

Sydney Cricket Ground

Saturday 5.15pm

The Rabbitohs’ NYC side will go in search of their third win of the season this Saturday at the SCG against St George Illawarra.

After starting the season with two wins against the Roosters and Manly, the under 20’s have gone down to the Tigers and Raiders successively, resulting in their seventh place ranking on the NYC ladder.

By comparison, St George Illawarra come into the match having not yet lost a match in the opening month of their season, with Newcastle’s superior for and against the only thing standing in the way of them topping the table.

But the Rabbitohs hardly come into the match as under-dogs with their last match against the Raiders going right down to the wire with a 34-30 score-line the difference.

The fact that these up and comers will be playing at such a historic venue in their respective colours will give plenty of reasons to lift. Get out to the SCG early to see what is sure to be an energetic performance from both sides.

 

The South Sydney Rabbitohs will take on the St George Illawarra Dragons at the Sydney Cricket Ground this Saturday night in John Sutton’s milestone game. Will you be there to support ‘Sutto' and witness history on Saturday? Tickets are available now!

Tickets

A $25 ticket for an adult and child will be on offer for this weekend’s Dragons v Rabbitohs 'Men of League Heritage Round'

Fans will be able to purchase the special “Generation Pack” ticket for the Sydney Cricket Ground match on Saturday.

The special offer is aimed at celebrating Heritage Round by encouraging parents and grandparents to take a child to the league and share in the game’s rich history.

Members passes for both the Dragon and the Rabbitohs (Premium and Plus) will also be accepted on the day thanks to reciprocal rights, with the same agreement in place for the round 12 clash at ANZ Stadium.

In another win for fans, 2500 tickets to sit in the new SCG Members (Noble) stand are also available.

For all game day information including how to purchase tickets, please click here.